Thinking straight might help: Modafinil in early recovery from crystal meth addiction

I’ve mentioned before that I believe medications can be a very helpful tool in early recovery, especially for specific individuals who need help getting over the initial, most difficult, period (look here).

If you take a look at my first post about meth and its effects on the brain, you’ll read that crystal meth use can negatively affect the function of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. One of the dopamine’s important roles in the brain has to do with impulse inhibition and control over behavior.

The role of impulse control in early recovery trouble

With a reduced capacity for behavioral control, it’s no surprise that people in early recovery find it especially hard to resist urges to use again. When you consider that it’s already been shown that addicts are more likely to have impulse control problems, like ADD/ADHD, the role of impulsivity becomes even more important for understanding addictions. Having less control over a preoccupation that results in obsessive-thoughts and compulsive-actions means that slips, or relapses, are an almost expected outcome.

If we could only figure out how to give people better control over their impulses, we’d possibly better equip them to prevent their own relapses.

ADHD medication for crystal meth addiction help

Well, a number of drugs used for ADHD have been researched as possible aids for addicts, and it seems like Modafinil (marketed as Provigil) may help with exactly the cognitive deficits that seem to trip meth (and cocaine) addicts in early recovery up. In fact, the results seem to be strong enough to warrant the initiation of some larger scale investigations. This, along with previous findings that reported relatively low abuse-potential for modafinil suggest that this may indeed prove to be a useful medication.

No one is saying that this is the pill that will cure addiction, or even that a pill like that is going to be found. But hopefully, along with other medications (like Bupropion), the number of tools in the proverbial toolbox of addiction specialists will continue to increase, allowing them to better treat a larger proportion of those suffering from addiction.


Jasinski, D. R & Kovacevic-Ristanovic, R. (2000). Evaluation of the Abuse Liability of Modafinil and Other Drugs for Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Associated with Narcolepsy. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 23, 149-156.

Ling, W., Rawson R., & Shoptaw, S. (2007). Management of methamphetamine abuse and dependence. Current Psychiatry Reports, 8, 345-354.

6 responses to “Thinking straight might help: Modafinil in early recovery from crystal meth addiction”

  1. I’m sorry, but if you’re trying to think straight, you need to know this. PROVIGIL CAN KILL! I had “multi-organ” failures which NEARLY killed me after I started taking Provigil modafinil & a week after my dosage raised from 100 mg per day to 400 mg. What “failed” were my heart, my kidneys & my brain. My blood pressure sunk so low ( 80/45 ) that my brain & body got starved of oxygen. I was in cardiogenic shock, near death during a 9-day coma, spent 21 days in ICU, 32 days total in hospital. My heart, kidneys & brain are damaged permanently. My life has likely been shortened by a decade.

    Don’t trade your addiction for a gravestone. Please, DO NOT TAKE PROVIGIL!

  2. Bruce,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your horrible experience with modafinil. I’m not sure what led to the large decrease in blood pressure in your case, but complications have been reported and though rare, they obviously can have a great impact when they occur.
    Thankfully, it sounds as if your recovery has been going well, which I’m very glad to hear.

    All the best

  3. Hi Bruce, Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It think information is valuable. Granted, people all have different bodies and drugs affect each of them a bit differently, but we all should know the pros and cons of every drug out there and share that information with our doctors first and tell him every fact about ourselves so they can make the best decision for us.

  4. I participated in a study through UAMS 5 years ago where the crystal meth addict(ME)went about their everyday existence, even using crystal meth, to see how Modafinil (Provigil) helped curb the meth cravings. I only participated in this study for 4 weeks, and I used meth almost daily while in the study, because Modafinil gave me energy to get up and go get my drugs, but, more importantly, after using 40 mg. of Modafinil daily, I coouldn’t get “high” smoking crystal meth like usual…I even blamed my drug dealer for ripping me off. lol. AT that time, I wasn’t ready to quit. I am now. I have been clean for 3 months now, and I would highly recommend Modafinil in small dosage. The only drawback is the phenomenal price for this medicine. Does anyone know when this drug will be affordable?

  5. Provigil the brand name for modafinil kept me out of semi coma 10 years ago and I still take it although it is expensive. Previously I used to pay 50$ a month with my insurance. Now it costs more than 400 a month. I was told when modafinil the generic came in market, the price would go back to 50$. Cephalon won’t help if you have insurance. Monopoly on this even after several years.

  6. Some people think that all you need to do is wake up whenever you want, pop a pill and start writing out cures for cancer. It doesn’t work like that. You should pre-plan the night before you go to sleep.

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